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How Does Apple Pay Compare to EMV (Chip & PIN)?

Credit card fraud is on the rise. And major data breaches are becoming more common.

Against this backdrop, merchants across the country are rushing to make their payment environments more secure. And two of the most popular solutions include adding chip & PIN EMV or Apple Pay options:

  • EMV is the older of the two technologies. Each credit or debit card comes embedded with a special security chip. When making purchases at the cashier counter, customers insert these chips into an EMV reader before entering in a personal identification number (PIN).
  • New arrival, Apple Pay, is a mobile payment technology. Customers upload their credit card details into their iPhones or iPads. When at the cashier, they wave these devices across near field communication (NFC) terminals to create a connection and make a purchase.

Both of these payment solutions offer greater security than traditional magnetic stripe credit cards do.

EMV chips are difficult to clone, which is why chip & PIN is already mandatory in most parts of the world. NFC requires close proximity, and in order to authorize a transaction, users provide a biometric fingerprint scan with Touch ID.

But which payment technology is better for your store?

Major Differences between Apple Pay and Chip & PIN EMVs

Although EMV is the older and more established of the two, it's enjoyed relatively limited success in the U.S. This is changing rapidly. But at present, fewer than 25 percent of stateside credit and debit cards come with embedded chips. And thus, fewer than 25 percent of retail shoppers benefit from this extra security feature.

The one upside is that EMVs work with older terminals, and older credit cards work with EMV terminals. So secure or not, transactions can still go through.

By contrast, Apple Pay only works with later versions of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. And the merchant must have an NFC reader in order to accept payments.

Another important difference is tokenization. Although Apple Pay users upload credit card information to their devices, neither Apple nor retailers ever have direct access to sensitive financial data. All personal account numbers (PANs) are replaced with randomly generated IDs ("tokens") that are then used to authorize one-time transactions. This makes it very difficult for criminals to ever steal or clone a user's credit card information.

Download the Tokenization Infographic 

EMV cards can use tokenization, but this extra security feature isn't necessarily standard.

This is an important distinction — especially for e-commerce merchants.

In the online world, EMV's security technology becomes obsolete. With online shopping carts, there's no way for customers to use the embedded chip. And thus, chip & PIN cards are about as secure as normal swipe & sign plastic. Apple Pay's tokenization works for all retail environments — online and offline.

Which Payment Technology Should You Choose for Your Store?

Done correctly, you shouldn't have to choose between these two competing technologies. When updating your payment infrastructure, invest in an EMV reader that accepts NFC payments. That way, you'll be able to process both Apple Pay transactions and those made with Chip & PIN cards.

For help getting started, contact our payment support team today.

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Topics: EMV, Mobile Payments

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